Frequently asked questions
Q: How do you know that Farm Wilder farmers are helping wildlife?
A: Farm Wilder works with the farmers, with input from our partner charities including RSPB, Butterfly Conservation and Wildlife Trusts, to monitor wildlife on the farms, and make recommendations to improve habitat for the rare species we are targeting. Each farm is inspected annually and receives a biodiversity action plan.
Q: You’re helping Cuckoos and Marsh Fritillary butterflies, but what about other farm wildlife?
A: Cuckoos and Marsh Fritillaries are both difficult species to look after, and need the most urgent help. They rely on habitats that are increasingly rare in Britain, but if these habitats are managed right, and cover a large enough area by joining them up, then you also look after all sorts of other rare species which live there too, including orchids, moths, bees and dragonflies. However, it's possible to have good habitat for rare species on one part of the farm whilst other more intensively managed areas have little wildlife. This is why our Farm Standards require farmers to make improvements across the whole farm – e.g. planting trees, better hedgerow management, increasing pasture diversity and introducing wider field margins.
Q: Shouldn’t we be just giving up meat completely?
A: Of course, giving up meat and dairy entirely is an approach taken for a wide range of reasons, but going vegan doesn’t suit everybody. Meat is a valuable source of protein and nutrients. Attaining these nutrients requires careful attention in a 100% vegan diet. In many parts of the world it’s difficult to grow much apart from grass (the west of Britain falls into this category), so it makes sense to use livestock to turn this grass into food that people can eat. But many wild plants and animals also rely on being grazed by ruminants, which have evolved in conjunction with the flora and fauna of the temperate world, first in the wild and then in their domesticated forms. The intensification of farming has meant this relationship has largely been lost, and as a result many of our most threatened species are grassland species. It’s vital to restoring Britain’s lost biodiversity that we maintain grazing on our few surviving wildflower meadows, extensively and within a mosaic of other habitats, and that we start to create new meadows on some degraded farmland.
Q: Wouldn’t it be better to re-wild these upland areas instead?
A: Re-wilding can be a great way to create habitat for many species, and hopefully there will be opportunities for the re-wilding of more upland areas in the near future. But in an island as small as Britain, re-wilding isn’t a simple solution. For a start, communities, local culture and rural economies have evolved over the centuries with agriculture at their core, and this continues to be the case today. If that was to fall away, it is hard to overstate the impact that would have on these areas and their inhabitants. Even if farming was removed from the uplands, there is no guarantee that natural succession would lead to increased diversity – where livestock has been removed or greatly reduced on Dartmoor, dominant species like European gorse, molinia and bracken have largely taken over, dramatically reducing bird populations. If re-wildling is to work in the uplands, it needs careful management and monitoring, and the consent of local communities. In the meantime, we need wildlife friendly farming to allow endangered species to recover while supporting the rural economies and culture.
Q: How does Farm Wilder meat help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Q: Why isn’t Farm Wilder meat organic?
A: Organic food is generally much better for our environment than conventionally produced food. However organic standards don't guarantee habitat for wildlife – although they remove the use of pesticides and fertilisers, which can degrade and destroy habitats, they don't require farmers to manage, restore and create the specific habitats that much wildlife demands. Organic also allows for up to 40% of an animal’s diet to be from grain, and we believe that growing grain to feed livestock is an unsustainable use of land in a world competing for resources.
Q: Is Farm Wilder meat expensive?
A: Farm Wilder is a non-profit organisation, which helps keep prices down, and our meat is generally cheaper than organic meat. But it is more expensive than meat you would buy in a supermarket, because cheap meat comes with a high environmental cost. It comes down to a choice – we can keep buying cheap industrially produced meat, which kills wildlife and causes many environmental problems, or we can eat less meat, and when we do be prepared to pay a little more for higher quality, healthier, tastier meat, knowing that we are helping wildlife and encouraging farmers to farm more sustainably.
Q: Where and How does Slaughtering Take Place?
We work with a small family-run abattoir in Devon, which is less than 45 minutes drive from all our farms. We believe it is important to support local abattoirs like ours as it minimises stress to the animals, is more sustainable and helps the rural economy. The larger industrial scale abattoirs that supply supermarkets often require animals to be trucked hundreds of miles across the country, and they make it difficult for farmers to process small numbers of animals.